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Do you list all electives on your DC's transcripts (i.e. physical education, health)?


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I just read the following on the Fearless Homeschoolers website and about fell over.

"Electives on the Transcript - If the electives are interesting and important to the student’s story, include those electives. Physical education or health? There’s no need to include them unless you’d like to."

https://fearlesshomeschoolers.com/blog/homeschool-high-school-transcript

The more I read here in the archives and other places, I get the feeling that homeschoolers aren't really supposed to enjoy "easy" credits because it "pads" their GPA. I thought the "easy" classes were supposed to balance out workloads and generally keep students sane (on top of providing a more well-rounded education). And, why do traditional schoolers get to count these credits but not homeschoolers (whether the GPA "padding" is solely for scholarship purposes or admissions too)? Are the only truly worthy electives the ones that branch off the core classes? I really need to know in truth. I have the following scheduled for DD this year, but now I'm doubting whether it's heavy enough. She's college bound.

9th Grade:

Algebra 1 - CLE's new book
Biology 1 - Oak Meadow + Quality Science Labs kit for Biology
English 1 - WWS 2, ...Classical Roots, CLE English 1 (grammar only, most likely spread over two years)
Latin 3 - MP Third Form Latin (the plan is four years of Latin in high school)
World Geography - Guest Hollow + The Great Courses
Fine or Practical Arts - Either drawing and/or starting her own internet business...still deciding on this one
P.E. - Biking the Katy Trail

My plan was to schedule seven credits per academic year with 1-2 being on the lighter side, but now I'm questioning everything. My DD has a broad range of interests. While she will not being going into a pure math field, she may end up in a science field or humanities or art or who knows.

ETA: I looked in our local high school's course handbook. As far as I can tell, the only "class" that doesn't receive credit on a transcript is office aide. Even the A+ Scholarship Program class gets a .5 credit, and it's to provide students with the opportunity to earn "unpaid" volunteer tutoring hours. That's not really unpaid, IMO.  

Edited by pitterpatter
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Yes, I listed all electives. PE and health, too, in case some admissions worker needs to check a box. I didn't assign letter grades for electives, only for core academic subjects. My kids had plenty of academic credits; nobody could accuse us of padding the transcript. 

Edited by regentrude
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Yes, electives are standard on transcripts. Public schools require a certain number of elective credits for graduation, and those are listed on the transcript, just like the "academic" credits. So colleges are very used to seeing electives on a transcript.

Also, JMO, but if a student put in the work you required for a credit (even for things like PE or Health), they deserve to have it listed as a credit on the transcript. If it was something NOT specifically done for a credit, but was done as an extracurricular, then I'd list it on the separate Extracurricular Description page, where it can "shine" with a paragraph of information about it.

The only elective credit I'd consider NOT including is Driver's Ed, as that is sort of expected that most students will do as part of real life and growing up. But, some public schools still list a 0.25 or 0.5 credit of Driver's Ed, so if a homeschooler wanted to stay consistent with what is done in their area by the public schools, go for it. 😉 

Edited by Lori D.
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2 hours ago, pitterpatter said:

... I have the following scheduled for DD this year, but now I'm doubting whether it's heavy enough. She's college bound.

9th Grade:
Algebra 1 - CLE's new book
Biology 1 - Oak Meadow
English 1 - WWS 2, ...Classical Roots, CLE English 1 (grammar only, most likely spread over two years)
Latin 3 - MP Third Form Latin (the plan is four years of Latin in high school)
World Geography - Guest Hollow + The Great Courses
Fine or Practical Arts - Either drawing and/or starting her own internet business...still deciding on this one
P.E. - Biking the Katy Trail

My plan was to schedule seven credits per academic year with 1-2 being on the lighter side, but now I'm questioning everything...

That looks like a perfect "college prep" set of credits for 9th grade 1 credit each in the "academic" subjects (English, Math, Science, Soc. Studies, For. Lang.), a Fine Arts credit, and an Elective credit. The particular curriculum choices are solid high school level, without being overwhelming to a student transitioning into high school level of rigor/volume of work, while also allowing for some personal interest in there with the Fine Arts and PE credits.

Wishing you and DD a GREAT 9th grade year! 😄 

Edited by Lori D.
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This is what I think too! DD chose biking the Katy Trail for her P.E. credit. This was not something we already did in daily life. We had to buy bikes, helmets, a car bike rack, etc. Plus, we have to drive 1 to 2.5 hours to get to any part of the trail (driving time not counted in her P.E. hours, of course). Biking 120+ hours on the weekends in a variety of weather conditions requires a lot of effort. (We average about 2 hours for a 15-mile ride right now.) Plus, it limits other extracurricular activities that DD can participate in on the weekends. I feel like it should count!

19 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

Also, JMO, but if a student put in the work you required for a credit (even for things like PE or Health), they deserve to have it listed as a credit on the transcript. If it was something not specifically done for a credit, but was done as an extracurricular, then I'd list it on the separate Extracurricular Description page, where it can "shine" with a paragraph of information about it.

 

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2 minutes ago, pitterpatter said:

This is what I think too! DD chose biking the Katy Trail for her P.E. credit. This was not something we already did in daily life. We had to buy bikes, helmets, a car bike rack, etc. Plus, we have to drive 1 to 2.5 hours to get to any part of the trail (driving time not counted in her P.E. hours, of course). Biking 120+ hours on the weekends in a variety of weather conditions requires a lot of effort. (We average about 2 hours for a 15-mile ride right now.) Plus, it limits other extracurricular activities that DD can participate in on the weekends. I feel like it should count!

 

IF you want a PE credit, it can certainly count. My kids' PE credits were hiking and rock climbing. 

Otoh, to present a different aspect: not everything a kid does has to end up as a transcript credit. Some things are better saved as an extracurricular where an unusual activity can truly stand out and not be buried among a lot of credits noone is looking at closely.

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If it was something I assigned for school & added up for enough hours, it went on the transcript. If it was something they did for fun (video editing, playing around with photoshop), I didn't list it.

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So this is interesting. I’m required to teach things like Health but I don’t have it on the transcript. Same with PE or drivers Ed. These get reported on my homeschool paperwork, but they’re not on his college application transcript. But my son teaches skiing as a paid job so I imagine they can put two and two together and realize he wasn’t locked in a room  4 years? I have way too many credits on the transcript as is. I wonder if I need to put it in now.

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5 hours ago, madteaparty said:

So this is interesting. I’m required to teach things like Health but I don’t have it on the transcript. Same with PE or drivers Ed. These get reported on my homeschool paperwork, but they’re not on his college application transcript. But my son teaches skiing as a paid job so I imagine they can put two and two together and realize he wasn’t locked in a room  4 years? I have way too many credits on the transcript as is. I wonder if I need to put it in now.

I don't think any colleges really look at PE. 

I have heard of high schools leaving PE off of their transcripts because in a hyper-competitive weighted GPA environment, having an unweighted A actually brings down the GPA if most of the rest of the transcript is AP and DE.

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I've found that one of the real benefits of homeschooling, when it comes to college applications, is the ability to decide on an individual basis what the high school transcript will look like. My son will have 16 elective credits - all of them fine arts credits. I felt this was a way to really showcase the depth and variety of his arts background and support his portfolio. I am not putting any additional electives such as health or PE as I feel it would take away from the transcript and those type activities will show up in other areas of the application through his jobs, volunteer work and extra-curricular activities. I made different decisions about what the transcript would look like for each of my children based on their differing focuses while in high school.

 

ETA - Each of his art classes is a 0.5 credit, though eight of the sixteen classes will be DE classes, so a total of eight credits of fine arts on his high school transcript. 🙂

 

Edited by Melissa B
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We're including the standard number of credits for PE, health, and personal finance.  They are required by our umbrella, whose requirements are mostly the same as the state's requirements for public school.  Most of the colleges that we looked at listed those courses as part of a 'typical transcript', so while they may not require them and may calculate GPA without them, they also won't be surprised to see them.  We are limiting them to the minimal number, though - we have to do 1/2 each of health and personal finance and 1 of PE, so that's all we're counting despite the fact that my ball player would likely have 3+ credits of conditioning or co-op PE (taken for fun) not including their actual ball practices.  This kid will also have academic electives. 

I do agree that it's not necessary to list everything that you do as a class, but for transcript purposes a lot of things can be either a class or an extracurricular.  One of my kids takes lessons for an instrument.  At some point I'll decide how to count that based on how their other credits add up.  If they've chosen other classes (choir at co-op, an art class, etc) that fulfill a fine arts requirement then I'll count the lessons as an extracurricular.  On the other hand, we may decide to count those hours of lesson and practice as their fine arts credit.  

One of my kids takes a chess class at co-op, and it's entirely possible that they'll take it for 4 years (I know that they'll have it at least 2 of their high school years), which would add up to a full credit's worth of classroom time in addition to the bits of time here and there that kid spends playing chess online with friends and strangers.  We could decide to do something to turn that into a credit or list it as an extracurricular, but it's also entirely possible that it won't be included on a transcript anywhere and will just be something that kid does for fun.  

Edited by Clemsondana
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1 hour ago, Melissa B said:

 

 

ETA - Each of his art classes is a 0.5 credit, though eight of the sixteen classes will be DE classes, so a total of eight credits of fine arts on his high school transcript. 🙂

 

In my area, the public schools are on the block system, so 4 classes each semester for a total of 8 classes a year. (Potential for 32 credits in high school.) Kids who are in band are required to take it both semesters, so they earn 2 band credits a year, for a total of 8 credit hours over the course of their high school career if they take it each semester.  That's 25% of high school credits for band!  This information really helped me to decide not to short-change my son and to give credit for some of the less rigorous electives.

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I did because I was claiming that my homeschool requirements were equal to or better than the requirements of the local high school.  The local high school requires health, PE, occupational education, art, etc, so all of that is on my kids' transcripts.

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My cover school requires PE, Health, Personal Finance.  So yes, they were on the transcript. With letter grades.

boring side notes: Driver's Ed: in some states I hear that even if you teach your child that subject you still have to go to a licensed driving school to get documentation for license before age 18.  When I live, that's not required. The insurance company did not give discount for drivers ed, but did give "good student" discount for overall GPA or high ACT score.  All that to say, there was no reason for drivers ed to be on my oldest's transcript.  (middle gal didn't take drivers ed until after age 18, so it was not on hers)

Activities and Awards: on more of a portfolio of achievements

extracurricular fun stuff: not on transcript but listed in college applications when it asked for stuff like that (this would be volunteering, any jobs, youth group leadership and participation... that kind of stuff for my kids)

Independent fun learning where it was not a formal class or even an informal class : left off. not needed.

kept it to 6 or 7 courses per semester which is customary near me.

never seem like I was padding the transcript.  oldest got into first choice engineering university with good scholarships based on ACT. (Middle did non traditional college route (clep, community college, finish at Thomas Edison). youngest - community college technical stuff. )

enjoy the variety of experiences 🙂

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Obviously electives in arts, tech, and extra academics should go on the transcript. Zero question.

In terms of health and PE, I genuinely think it's overthinking it to worry much. The vast majority of public school kids will have these credits with grades. The vast majority of colleges don't care and many will toss the grades when recalculating the GPA. Sometimes the PE activities add a little something. Oh, isn't it interesting that little Suzie planned her own cross-county bike trip, isn't it interesting that little Timmy climbed to the top of Mount Localmountain. Sometimes the health classes have some interesting content that you put in the descriptions. And, of course, if you packed your transcript with tons of PE and health, that would look bad and undermine other credits. But overall, it's a wash. Include it, don't include it... it literally does not matter either way.

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We list electives. 

A) My kids earned the credits, so they go on the transcript

B) I think it paints a fuller picture of their academic lives beyond the basics. Art, photography, music, health, PE are all important parts of the overall plan.

C) The scientist in me says a transcript is suppose to be a complete and accurate record, not cherry-picked data.

 

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I did not put PE or health but mostly because we didn’t do these in any way I would consider a class. 

On the other hand I did put Driver’s Ed. Most of the schools around here give a 1/2 credit for Driver’s Ed and our state requires what to me is a ginormous amount of time doing Driver’s Ed. So it seemed worth a credit. He got 1/2 credit for Personal Finance the same year. 

Oldest had 6 credits a year, which is less than a lot of people here. He had 5 credits a year that were solidly academic (Math, Science, English, History, Foreign Language). And then most of his electives were more on the academic side (Comp Science, Economics, extra Math). That represented his interests. He had no Art/Music/PE. He is a competitive swimmer so that went under extracurriculars and he plays piano which we also chose to put under extracurriculars. 

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7 hours ago, NittanyJen said:

 

C) The scientist in me says a transcript is suppose to be a complete and accurate record, not cherry-picked data.

 

That would be a slippery slope at my house given the amount self-directed work my dd does. I would say we're more precise than accurate, maybe? I mean she did all of the work that's listed there, but we definitely didn't start every subject with a plan and course title. That, and putting PE on would mean dropping off a section about academic short courses. I'm out of room, and the schools dd is applying to do prefer the main transcript stay to one page.

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11 hours ago, MamaSprout said:

That would be a slippery slope at my house given the amount self-directed work my dd does. I would say we're more precise than accurate, maybe? I mean she did all of the work that's listed there, but we definitely didn't start every subject with a plan and course title. That, and putting PE on would mean dropping off a section about academic short courses. I'm out of room, and the schools dd is applying to do prefer the main transcript stay to one page.

HA! Just goes to show, there is no one-size-fits-all perfect answer!

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Thank you, everyone! I greatly appreciate the variety of responses. There are so many tidbits that I had not thought of and/or read before. I'm reading Who Gets in and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions by Jeffrey J. Selingo, and it's definitely an eye-opening and enjoyable read. I remember one story at the beginning about a young man applying to Emory. He indicated that he was interested in physics. The application readers really liked that he had taken painting and ceramics because they liked the mix of arts and science. Apparently, it is not at all usual. It made him stand out, so 🤷‍♀️.

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My state doesn't have any requirements for homeschoolers so I can put whatever I want on transcripts. I include our electives. The public school students around me have health and PE on their transcripts, so why shouldn't my student get credit for it too? Our schools no longer offer driver's ed, but I put it on the transcript because I found out how many teens do not get their license before they graduate. It's more than you think! When older DS joined the military, the recruiter had a day when he took recruits right to the DMV and made them get their license! I figured it showed that my student did make the effort to take the classes, put in the required hours, and pass the test for an important life skill. As for PE and art, my student got 0.5 credits for a PE that is related to what he wants to do career wise and did both an unusual art class and another one related to the career he wants. I felt those electives strengthened his transcript and didn't just look like padding.

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Posted (edited)

Yesterday, I read in Who Gets in And Why... about recalculating GPAs. Apparently, Emory (and other selective schools) doesn't calculate anything from a student's freshman year when they recalculate GPAs. P.E., lunch (didn't know schools gave grades for this 😄), driver's education, study hall, and other noncore classes aren't tallied either. They consider the freshman year to be a transition year and too long ago to count. Now, I kind of wish we were just doing earth science this year for 9th grade. We could save biology for 10th grade when it counts. Not that I think DD will be applying to super selective schools, but maybe this explains why some private high schools' freshman class schedules that I looked at for planning purposes are pretty lackluster.

Edited by pitterpatter
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18 minutes ago, pitterpatter said:

Yesterday, I read in Who Gets in And Why... about recalculating GPAs. Apparently, Emory (and other selective schools) doesn't calculate anything from a student's freshman year when they recalculate GPAs. P.E., lunch (didn't know schools gave grades for this 😄), driver's education, study hall, and other noncore classes aren't tallied either. They consider the freshman year to be a transition year and too long ago to count. Now, I kind of wish we were just doing earth science this year for 9th grade. We could save biology for 10th grade when it counts. Not that I think DD will be applying to super selective schools, but maybe this explains why some private high schools' freshman class schedules that I looked at for planning purposes are pretty lackluster.

Two things though... that's just for GPA. For things like sequence, they still want to see that a student is taking the most rigorous courses. They are just giving grace on the grades. And yeah, a little grace on the coursework - if it wasn't the highest level it does matter less. But that doesn't mean it doesn't matter. More importantly, if you skip a traditional sequence course, that effects whether you're able to take another course that would build on it later and that matters a lot. And second, I'm only aware of a few schools that do this. The UC's are the biggest ones. But even among the elites, there are a lot more that keep the 9th grade GPA in for their recalculation.

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I'm glad to hear this. Just when I think I get some aspect of homeschooling high school figured out, I learn something new that contradicts that thought. 🤣

5 hours ago, Farrar said:

Two things though... that's just for GPA. For things like sequence, they still want to see that a student is taking the most rigorous courses. They are just giving grace on the grades. And yeah, a little grace on the coursework - if it wasn't the highest level it does matter less. But that doesn't mean it doesn't matter. More importantly, if you skip a traditional sequence course, that effects whether you're able to take another course that would build on it later and that matters a lot. And second, I'm only aware of a few schools that do this. The UC's are the biggest ones. But even among the elites, there are a lot more that keep the 9th grade GPA in for their recalculation.

 

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3 minutes ago, pitterpatter said:

I'm glad to hear this. Just when I think I get some aspect of homeschooling high school figured out, I learn something new that contradicts that thought. 🤣

 

I find that at least some of the contradictory information is just out of date. How colleges evaluate and what they evaluate shifts over time. 

But also, sometimes it's contradictory because there's not one single strategy that works to get into college, get it funded, and make it work. And the strategies that work for some schools don't work for others. So sometimes you'll hear from someone who had a lot of success with their kids with a particular strategy and now thinks it's "the only way." It's probably not. The "well-rounded" and the "pointy" kid both have a shot, the outside teachers and AP heavy kid and the everything at home interest-led quirky coursework kid both have a shot... And so forth. Just where and how depends.

 

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9 minutes ago, Farrar said:

I find that at least some of the contradictory information is just out of date. How colleges evaluate and what they evaluate shifts over time. 

But also, sometimes it's contradictory because there's not one single strategy that works to get into college, get it funded, and make it work. And the strategies that work for some schools don't work for others. So sometimes you'll hear from someone who had a lot of success with their kids with a particular strategy and now thinks it's "the only way." It's probably not. The "well-rounded" and the "pointy" kid both have a shot, the outside teachers and AP heavy kid and the everything at home interest-led quirky coursework kid both have a shot... And so forth. Just where and how depends.

 

This precisely. I find advice given without context is a bad advice. You see here things generalized that only apply to select group of kids all the time. 

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7 minutes ago, Roadrunner said:

This precisely. I find advice given without context is a bad advice. You see here things generalized that only apply to select group of kids all the time. 

It's the same as with any advice. I mean, if someone asks for "advice" about a "math curriculum" then they're going to hear how they should use Rod and Staff or Beast Academy or whatever... but R&S would be terrible advice for a secular family and Beast Academy would be terrible advice for a math challenged 10th grader... Context is everything. But people are so desperate about college advice sometimes that they're like, just tell me what you did/what to do! 

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PE, health, and other electives went on my kids’ transcripts too. I think overall, you need a good mix for your student. We put so much pressure on high school kids…but they need time to peruse interests too. And they should get credit for it if possible. Some interests may be better listed under activities and that’s okay. I just think we make academics a rat race sometimes. I found I had to purposefully step back and relax sometimes just to breathe! Anyway…electives are not just okay, I think they are important.

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Of course. Because electives are *required.* They are everything from keyboarding (formerly known as "typing") to foreign language to an additional year of math or science. At the first high school I attended, all sophomores were required to take biology; additional sciences for those who were college prep were electives. As a vocational student, I was only required to take one year of high school math, and it didn't have to be algebra. If I had taken more math, it would have been elective.

Music is fine arts, and usually required. So yes. On the transcript.

P.E.? Often required in high school, so on the transcript. California public schools used to require four years of P.E., and so it was not an elective (interestingly, only three years of English were required. o_0 ). And if it's required, and on the transcript, there will be a grade and credit.

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